Advent proves God’s promise is a reality

“The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.” (Ps 132:11)

Our God is a promise keeping God. He made a covenant with Abraham and reaffirmed that same covenant with his sons. He also made a covenant with the nation of Israel when Moses led them. Then again with David, promising that He would always have a son on his throne.

The covenants were unconditional and conditional at the same time. The next verse says,

“If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.” (Ps 132:12)

Many of us know the story of the kings. Incase you have forgotten or are reading about them for the first time, they did not obey the Lord. They didn’t keep His laws. Sure, some of them led the nation to repentance. But one good apple among a sea of bad ones will not do. The overall trajectory of the nation was bent toward’s idolatry and injustice.

The Lord, however, had made a covenant with His people. He promised to be their God. He promised one of David’s sons would sit on the throne. God fulfilled that promise Himself.

During Advent we are anticipating Jesus’ coming. He is the Son of God who did what Israel and the kings could not. He perfectly fulfilled God’s law, living for the Father’s glory and according to His will. He never sinned against the Father. As a result, He was granted the right to sit on the throne of David forever.

Advent anticipates His first coming and it points to His second coming where He will bring the kingdom in all its glory. To be sure, Jesus reigns and rules now. But in the future His reign and rule will be consummated. His kingdom will come and those who oppose Him will be cast out of the city gates, so that those who align themselves with God’s will can live securely inside the city of God for all eternity.

Will you be a citizen of the kingdom to come? Do you hope in Jesus’ second Advent? Will you celebrate His first Advent this year, worshipping and praising Him as the shepherds in the field did that glorious night? Would you travel half-way around the world like the wise men to lay gifts at His feet? Do you know the Savior? Do you have a love for Him? Do you bow to your King, recognizing that Jesus indeed is Lord?

In Uncertain Times Turn to the Lord for Rescue

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 124:8)

God is the One who created all things. He is the One we should turn to for help. In Acts 12, God is the One who helps Peter. Wrongfully imprisoned and held until the feast of Unleavened Bread was over, Herod was going to have Peter killed at the pleasure of the Jews.

Peter, guarded by several squads of soldiers, found his way out of prison and out of the city. Peter’s did not fight his way out of the prison. Nor did a band of soldiers enter the prison and rescue him from the mighty Roman’s. An angel of the Lord rescued Peter. The angel rescued him without drawing any blood. The chains holding Peter literally feel off. They walked back the guards, and the iron gate leading into the city opened on its own accord. Peter escaped by the help of the Lord!

God is our help in present troubles. He has the power to help us. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He literally fashioned the sun, moon, and stars in place. He molded the planet we call home. We were made in His image. Our Lord is our help.

Sometimes God rescues and restores in miraculous ways. Other times He does it in the ordinary. At times, He doesn’t rescue at all. In the same episode in Acts, James was killed while Peter was rescued. James’ death doesn’t point to an impotent or slumbering God. God accomplishes what He desires when He desires. We must remember God’s will doesn’t always match our will. He was done using James but not Peter. While James passed on from this world, he entered a greater world where he is able to see the Lord face to face.

In uncertain times, don’t turn to man to rescue you. Turn to the Lord. Trust in His will. He has a plan. His plan will not be thwarted. He will accomplish that which He has purposed. We should glory in God’s rescue as well as His use of us to accomplish His purposes.

Glory be to God!

How Can We Experience the Joys of the Kingdom?

In verse 27 of Revelation 21, John tells us that,

“…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Re 21:27)

And again in verses 14 and 15 of Revelation 22, John tells us that only

“…those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Re 22:14–15)

Clearly, not everyone is allowed to enter and experience the joys of the kingdom. What is that dividing line? What determines whether a person is in or out of the kingdom? In other words,

How can we experience the joys of the kingdom to come?

In verse 27, John mentions the Lamb’s book of life. He tells us that our names have to be written in it if we are going to enter. As well as he tells us that no one who is unclean will be able to enter.

How do we become clean?

In order to be clean, we have to have had our robes washed. It is not clear from this verse how or in what way our robes must be washed, but back in chapter 7 in verse 14, John tells us that those who have already entered into Jesus’ presence have washed their robes in the blood of Christ.

How can we wash in the blood of Christ?

The blood of Jesus isn’t a product we can run down to Walmart and purchase. How, then, can we have our robes washed in Jesus’ blood? The only way we can wash our robes in the blood of Jesus is to believe the gospel.

The gospel

The gospel is shorthand for good news. In biblical terms, the good news is that Jesus has taken our punishment for us. You see, we are sinners who have sinned against God. In other words, we live in rebellion. We want to do our own thing. As those who have rebelled against God, we deserve to be punished by Him.

But God sent Jesus, who not only lived a perfect life but also died the death we deserve. He took our punishment on Himself when He hung on the cross at Calvary.

All those who would admit that they live in rebellion to God and deserve His punishment for doing so, as well as all those who believe that Jesus suffered and died in our place, in order to make a way for our relationship with the Father to be repaired, all those who would repent and believe those things will be covered or washed in the blood of Christ.

When the Father looks down on us, He doesn’t see an unclean people but a people who have been made holy through Jesus’ blood. As a result, we are able to enter and enjoy the blessings of the kingdom to come.

No other way

Apart from repenting and believing in Jesus, there is no other way to enter the kingdom and enjoy the blessings that come with it.

Open to all

The good news in all of this is that the ability to be washed in Jesus’ blood is open to all. Look at verse 17 of chapter 22,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Re 22:17)

We all can come. Coming costs nothing. We don’t, nay we can’t, pay for the water of life. It’s freely given to those who repent and believe.

So if you haven’t yet repented and believed, heed Jesus’ words and come. If you are thirsty and desire life eternal, come. If you want to experience the joys of the kingdom, come. Come to Jesus!

If you have turned to Jesus, and if you do believe in Him, then praise God because you have a perfect world, ruled by a perfect King, with unhindered access to God to which to look forward.

Question for Reflection

  1. Will you be a part of the kingdom to come?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon The End of God’s Restoration Project

How Do You Know You Value the Kingdom? | Part 3

Treasure

Maybe you have called yourself a Christian for a long time, but how do you know you value the kingdom?

The Parable of the Householder

The Parable of the Householder not only tells us what Jesus’ disciples should do, but what those who value the kingdom will do.

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52, ESV)

Jesus not only compares His disciples to the Scribes – the learned teachers of the day – but also to a household master. He pictures the master bringing out and showing off his old and new treasure.

The old treasure represents the familiar teachings of the day, while the new treasure represents the teachings Jesus revealed to the disciples.

What’s Jesus point?

Jesus’ point is that His disciples are to teach the people how the old and new truths He revealed integrate together. Jesus’ message doesn’t wipe the slate clean. It doesn’t replace the old. It fulfills it, and it is the disciples job to show how that’s the case.

Why Spread Jesus’ Message?

Problems will arise, if Jesus’ disciples carry Jesus’ message to the people. People will reject and hate them. Life will not be easy. Knowing that, why spread Jesus’ message?

The value of the Kingdom should cause Jesus’ disciples to spread His message.

You see, those who value the kingdom will tell others about it. They will talk about it, no matter the cost.

That’s because we talk about those things we value.

How do you know if you value the kingdom?

(1) Is Jesus apart of your conversations with others?

Do you talk about Him with you friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers?

We talk about those things we value. You can know if you value the things of God, you can know if you value the kingdom, you can know if you value Jesus, if you talk about Him.

How else can we know if we value the kingdom or the things of God?

(2) Do you read God’s Word?

If you value the things of God, you will want to learn more about Him. The way to do that is to read His Word.

(3) Do you pray?

If you think God is valuable, you will set aside time in your day to talk with Him.

(4) Do you seek to live according to God’s Word?

If you think His wisdom and commands are valuable, you will want to live by them.

(5) Do you give your money, time, and resources to kingdom work?

Those things we value, we invest in. Do you invest in the kingdom by giving your money, time, and resources to it?

(6) Do you put Jesus first in your life?

The things we value get first priority in our lives. So is Jesus first in your life, or is He 2nd or 3rd, or even at the bottom of your list? We give first priority to those things we value. So is Jesus first in your life?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do the questions above reveal you value the Kingdom or not? Why or why not?
  2. What other questions would you add to the list of six above?

Resources

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Why Should You Want to Follow Jesus?

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Why is Jesus’ Kingdom So Valuable? | Part 2

Treasure

Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world and you should want to give up everything to follow Him. But why? What makes His Kingdom the most valuable thing in the world?

(1) Jesus’ Kingdom is valuable because those who are apart of it have a restored relationship with God and eternal life.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 13:47–50)

Jesus compares the fishermen picking out the bad fish with the angels work when Jesus returns. The angels will separate the evil from the righteous. The evil will face God’s punishment, while the righteous enjoy a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life.

Those who are apart of the kingdom, those who follow Jesus are no longer enemies of God. They enjoy a restored relationship with the Father because Jesus paid the price for their sins, taking the punishment they deserve.

How great is that? How valuable is that? It’s worth more than anything this world could ever provide.

(2) Jesus’ Kingdom is valuable because it will never fail us.

It’s the best investment we could ever make. It is guaranteed. It is no risk because Jesus follows through on His promises. He promises us eternal life. We get it. He promises us joy. We get it. He promises us acceptance. We get it.

On the other hand, the world promises us all kinds of things, but doesn’t come through. And if it does, it’s not lasting.

The World Promises Joy

You might find joy in a new car or home or phone. The joy, however, it provides is only momentary. It’s easily taken away. A car wreck. A dropped phone. A house fire.

The World Promises Satisfaction

You might find satisfaction in your job. What happens, however, if you are fired, disabled and can’t work, or if old age has caught up to you and you are forced to retire?

The World Promises Success, Fame, and Wealth

Take fame for instance. People chase fame all their lives, but it is fleeting and short lived. Think about all the sports stars, actors and actresses, and musicians who are now labeled “has beens.” They were famous for a while, but eventually grew too old or a new rising star stole the spotlight.

Fame is short lived. The same with success and wealth and whatever else the world promises.

The world is always going to fail us. Jesus, however, will never fail us. The kingdom will never fail us. It will be there for all eternity.

Conclusion

Jesus’ kingdom is valuable because:

  1. It provides us with a restored relationship with God and eternal life.
  2. It will never fail us.

With something so valuable, why would you ever want to go after anything else?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Can you think of other reasons Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world?
  2. Do you believe Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world?

Resources

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Why Should You Want to Follow Jesus?

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